Five Healthy Foods to Manage or Prevent Diabetes

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Type 2 diabetes has reached nearly epidemic proportions in the U.S. With an estimated 12 million+ diagnosed with this disease, it is often called a “silent killer” due to its lack of obvious symptoms until it is in the late stages. According to an article in U.S. News & World Report, diabetes is the sixth-leading cause of death by disease.

Whether you’ve been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes or simply want to start eating healthier to prevent the onset of diabetes, there are dozens of tasty foods available that can help regulate blood sugar levels naturally. Let’s take a look at several categories of foods that can help regulate blood sugar levels, and also have other healthy benefits.

Green Vegetables
“Five a day for better health” is not just a catchy slogan. We all know green vegetables are good for us, but which ones are best for people with diabetes? Leafy green vegetables, including swiss chard and spinach, are high in magnesium. Having the right levels of magnesium in your body can improve insulin sensitivity, and many people are shown to be deficient in this important nutrient. While supplements are useful, it’s always best to get as much as you can of any nutrient from a natural food source. Leafy green vegetables, and the magnesium you get from eating them, are also good for cardiovascular health.

Broccoli
Most people either love or hate this cruciferous vegetable, but your body will love the nutrients it provides. Broccoli is rich in magnesium, and can also help prevent and reverse damage to blood vessels caused by diabetes. If you won’t eat it raw, which is the healthiest way, steam until tender-crisp and toss lightly with garlic and olive oil, or saute just until it turns bright green and fold into an egg white omelet.

Raw Pumpkin Seeds and Sunflower Seeds
If you are a “mindless snacker,” often noshing while you’re watching TV or on the computer, raw pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds will give you a healthy boost of magnesium. Because you have to crack the shell, these seeds take longer to eat than many foods. This is a good thing, because pumpkin seeds are high in calories, with 190 calories in three tablespoons. The benefits, though? They contain no cholesterol, are very low in sodium and they contain no sugar (the best part for diabetics!). Just make sure to measure out your portion before you sit down to eat, and stick to it. Or, use as a topping on a sugar-free, probiotic yogurt. The probiotics modify the microflora in your stomach to minimize some of the effects of diabetes.

Beans
In type 2 diabetics, beans have been shown to reduce their need for insulin shots — what better incentive to add these versatile foods to your diet? Beans contain fibers called pectins, which produce extra insulin receptors that increase insulin sensitivity and help the insulin in your body do its job of moving glucose from the blood to your cells, where it gives you energy. Beans also help regulate blood sugar and, like the other items on this list, are high in healthy magnesium.

Make these foods a regular part of your diet to control your blood sugar or ward off Type 2 diabetes.

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